First off apologies to those who came here earlier. Had a bit of a technical mix-up and posted my final project rather than my review.
Well, here we are monsterologists. Our last field study. It’s been an honor learning and growing beside you. You should be happy to know that this last venture into the field of monsterology feels a little familiar. It combines the freezing setting of Snow and The Thing with vicious Matheson-esque vampires. Our final trek takes us to Barrow, Alaska in Steven Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night.
I’m torn on Templesmith’s art. On one hand it’s beautiful and its murky water colors perfectly capture the bleak and remote settings of Barrow. When that art is focused on terrified townsfolk hiding for their lives or blood-soaked vampires, it brings the scene to life and you feel a chill at your back. It’s beautiful when it catches still life or static images and you’re rooted in that scene.
When he used it to try and convey action scenes though I felt like the art style hindered it more than it helped it. The images were so dark and blurry that most of the time I couldn’t tell what was happening in the scene. Likewise, the decision to do most of the vampires’s speech bubbles in the way they chose sometimes strained my eyes. Luckily, I was reading on my Kindle so I was able to zoom it rather than squint to try and make out some of the jumbled lettering.
The romance between the two sheriffs seemed pretty real, but pretty much every other character fell flat. I honestly can’t pick out one townsperson from the other besides Eben and his wife. The vampires felt pretty stereotypical too, upstart new-aged vampire and old school badass, creepy little girl vampires, nothing really new added. Don’t even get me started on the characters from New Orleans. Did we ever find anything out about them besides that they’re mother and son? What was their stake in all this?
The consistencies of the vampires also seemed misbalanced. Vicente was able to smack around a vampire, and since he had in Barrow since the beginning of the slaughter, I think its safe to assume he’s been a vampire longer than Eben. Yet somehow Eben is able to defeat him and stare down nineteen other vampires into leaving after being a vampire for about five minutes.
How’s he able to maintain his sanity? That one guy who got scratched turned against the humans easy, but Eben with blood injected in him (and we have to assume that with vampires, a transformation through blood has to be stronger than from a scratch) is able to eventually wallop the head vampire and protect his town? Then control his hunger until the sun comes up?
I’m still not sure how they killed that vampire in their jail cell, did his wife blow that one’s head off or something? It felt like the series needed to be longer than three issues. I didn’t feel like 30 days had passed, barely a week, and it could have addressed these other problem I had too.
That said, 30 Days of Night did impress me with its deeper meaning that I don’t usually wade across in comics or graphic novels. There’s a lot of rhetoric in our society about fighting fire with fire. The problem is if you try to fight monsters with that methodology, you become monsters yourself. Eben does this, becoming a vampire to protect his wife and his town. And after ridding his town of monsters, Eben does the noble thing and sacrifices himself to the sun. He knows he’s a monster now and there’s no longer a place for him, he rid his town of monsters, even himself.
30 Days of Night was a mixed bag for me. Few of the characters will stick with you for long and the plot will have you going “huh?” and “wait, what?” more than once. However, it takes a unique approach to vampires in terms of setting and wraps it up with beautiful art and a resounding theme. It’s definitely worth taking a look at.